Age is just a number for England’s 23-year-old Sophie Ecclestone, who has taken the world of cricket by storm thanks to her incredible achievements on the field. Standing at 6 feet tall, the left arm spinner is blessed with an envious height, which makes her a lethal bowler.
Born on May 6, 1999, Sophie Ecclestone was a proficient cricketer from a young age. During one of the informal cricket matches that she played, she sent all the boys in the opposition team packing. Not just this, she bowled the school headmaster on the very first ball. That was just the beginning for her. She received more formal cricket training at Alvanley Cricket Club in Helsby, Cheshire. At the age of seven, she was the only girl on the club’s pathway. Gradually she started playing for the Cheshire women’s county team and was then spotted by Lancashire, for which she made her domestic debut in 2015.
After having a good run at the domestic level, she was fast-tracked into England’s Academy squad. In 2016, at the age of 16, she went on her first tour abroad, to Sri Lanka with the Academy. She clinched 16 wickets for the Academy in a tri-series against Australia A and Sri Lanka A.
In the same year, she made her international debut. She played her first T20I against Pakistan on July 3. A couple of months later, she made her ODI debut against the West Indies in October. In 2017, she made her Test debut against Australia to become an all-format player for England.
2017 was also the year when England hosted the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup. Ecclestone was in contention for selection to play for England. However, she had another round of exams to go before finishing school. She was not a part of the England’s World Cup squad that ultimately went on to win the championship.
Having successfully completed her schooling, she returned to playing for England in the latter half of 2017. In 2018, she was named in England’s squad for ICC Women’s World T20 that was held in the West Indies. England reached the finals however, they lost to Australia.
To date Ecclestone, who is renowned for her accuracy and economy, has achieved many milestones. In 2020, at the age of just 20, she became the world’s number one ranked T20I bowler, riding on the back of three years of impressive performances in the format. Ecclestone was the first England bowler to hold that distinction since Anya Shrubsole in 2016, and the first England spinner to do so since Danielle Hazell in 2015. In the same year that is in 2020, during the ICC Women’s World T20 that was played in February-March in Australia, Ecclestone scalped her 50th wicket in T20Is to become the youngest cricketer to do so in women’s T20Is. She was just 20 years and 300 days old. She accomplished the feat in 34 T20Is on March 1, 2020. In the process, she also completed 100 international wickets.
In 2022, she moved up to become the world number one bowler in women’s ODIs, thanks to her phenomenal performance in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. Having missed the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2017, Ecclestone has left no stone unturned playing her maiden 50-over World Cup this year. In the semi-final against South Africa, she picked up 6-36 to register her maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs and also record the best bowling figures for England in the history of Women’s Cricket World Cups. With 20 wickets to her name till the end of semi-finals, there is seldom any doubt that she will complete the tournament as the leading wicket-taker. Unequivocally, she has been an integral part of the defending champions’ outfit.
Apart from playing international cricket for England, she represented Lancashire Thunder in Kia Super League. She was also a part of global franchise cricket tournaments like Women’s T20 Challenge in India, when she represented Trailblazers and the Women’s Hundred in England, in which she featured for Manchester Originals.
Being in her early 20s, there is no doubt that she has many more years of international cricket left in her. In her brief international career so far, that spreads across just five years, she has made some remarkable contributions to women’s cricket in England. She has been the go-to bowler for her captain whenever the team needs wickets. She has come of age and has shown incredible maturity. She will certainly be a great servant of the game for years to come.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.